Caption: Mdm Alimah (left) with TOUCH staff Ms Helen Tan (middle) and TSAC senior Mdm Kamsiah (right) chatting at the void deck.
Born with severe Bilateral Polio, Mdm Alimah, 63, is a wheelchair user. Since young, she had to rely on crutches to get around. However, despite her disability, Mdm Alimah held on to her job as a book binder for 19 years and finally resigned due to transport issues and chronic back pains. She was then 50 years old and living with her distant relative.
In 2014, she moved to Geylang Bahru as she valued her independence and wanted to live on her own. She was 56 years old. She did not know anyone in the neighbourhood and kept mostly to herself. Her life turned around when a staff from TOUCH Senior Activity Centre (TSAC) asked if she wanted to participate in the centre’s activities. They had observed her trying to manage her wheelchair as she navigated the tight corners in the neighbourhood while running errands.
Caption: Mdm Alimah (middle) flanked by TSAC staff
Caption: Despite her disability, Mdm Alimah is able to manage household chores on her own.
Plugging into the community
TOUCH staff befriended her and gradually won her trust. Soon, she started to open up and shared about her challenges at home. They also helped her apply for financial assistance from the Social Service Office and checked her vital signs regularly. To improve her mobility, TOUCH staff also worked with a medical social worker to help Mdm Alimah apply for a motorised wheelchair. When it broke down, a mechanic was sent to repair her wheelchair promptly. Mdm Alimah would approach TOUCH staff whenever she encounters any issues in life.
“I feel more secure to be living in the same block as SAC. The staff have been very kind and helpful. I treasure this friendship I have with the staff and seniors at SAC. I have found my sense of belonging in this neighbourhood,” said Mdm Alimah.
Caption: The Malay Diabetes Peer Support group has enabled Mdm Alimah to be more conscious of her health.
Caption: During the pandemic, Mdm Alimah took part in TSAC's IShopUPay programme together with staff volunteers from SP Group, known as SP Heart Workers.
Soon, Mdm Alimah got to know more seniors through TSAC, especially Malay residents. She found comfort in their company and joined them for activities at the centre, such as the Malay Diabetes Peer Support Group, where she learnt more about diabetes prevention. Her social circle also expanded to include interactions with volunteers from all walks of life. She particularly enjoyed the festive parties held for seniors at the pavilion in Geylang Bahru. Recently, she attended a lively discussion on how to take care of her health during Ramadan.
These day, Mdm Alimah spends her time catching up with her good friends at SAC and joining activities together with them. “I think I am contented with my life now. I have found new friends and I enjoy my independence. I am thankful to SAC staff for helping me in so many ways,” said Mdm Alimah.